Teens Learn Distracted Driving from Parents

Most American parents continue to set very bad examples for their teenage children when it comes to distracted driving. According to a new study, many teens who admit to texting while driving say that they are updating their parents via text at the time.

The study found that even teenagers who call themselves safe drivers admit they frequently checked on their phones and texted while steering. Many of the teenagers admitted that they are often distracted while driving by parents who text them, and expect them to text back immediately. About 50% of the teenagers confessed that they frequently texted while driving in order to reply to their parents who expected immediate responses within a minute. Approximately 19% of the teenagers said that their parents expected such immediate responses to their texts.

According to the researchers, the problem seems to be a generation of parents that is very used to being constantly in the know about the whereabouts of their teenage children at any given point. These parents require their children to text back within a minute or so of receiving a text message. Unfortunately, in many cases, teenagers are driving when they receive a text from their parents, and feel the need to respond immediately to the message.

Teens are also at risk of other distractions at the wheel. The use of Instagram and Snapchat while driving are extremely popular with more than 50% of the teenagers admitting to using these apps at the wheel.

Types of Distracted Driving

Although teens may frequently get distracted by using their cell phones while steering, there are other forms of distracted driving that parents should know about.

Distracted steering falls into three categories: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off of the road, manual distractions include taking your hands off of the wheel and cognitive is any mental distraction from the road. Any activity that falls into one of these three categories can be considered a danger on the road including but not limited to:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating
  • Reading
  • Messing with the radio or navigation system
  • Watching a video

Parents should learn that there is more to distracted driving than texting or talking on the phone. Teens should be aware that any of these activities could lead to a higher risk of getting into an accident with serious injuries.

What Can Parents Do?

In Colorado, texting while steering is banned and there are also restrictions placed around cell phone use. Drivers under the age of 18, considered to be novice drivers, are not permitted to use cell phones at all, even if the phone is hands free. It’s vital that parents inform their teens about these distracted steering laws so that they can understand the seriousness of texting or talking on the phone while steering. Not only is it dangerous, it’s illegal, too.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages parents to talk to teens about the danger and consequences of distracted driving. These topics include steering under the influence of alcohol, texting while driving, speeding, driving with extra teen passengers in the car, and texting while steering. These are some of the most important and critical factors involved in teen injuries and fatalities in car accidents every year. In fact, auto accidents are the number one cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 20 in the United States. In 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than 2,600 teen car drivers who were involved in fatal accidents. About 130,000 drivers were injured in these accidents.

However, other surveys conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that many parents continue to avoid talking about driving safety with their teenage child. Only about a quarter of parents in one survey had brought up the topic of driving safety with their child. It’s important to discuss not just the need to avoid driving practices like driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving, but also to discuss key safety components.

Here are some other tips that Denver car accident lawyer suggest to help your teen understand the dangers of distracted driving:

Drive regularly with your child, and use these driving sessions to teach your child to recognize accident cues, and other important safety practices. Most importantly, as you drive with your child, follow safe driving practices yourself. Your advice to your teenage child about avoiding texting while driving is no good if your child sees you frequently texting while driving.

Talk to your teens about all distracted driving risks. Many parents talk to teens about drinking and driving, but forget to mention that’s not the only thing that poses a danger for you behind the wheel. Teens should understand that anything that takes their attention away from the road is considered to be a risk, whether that be fiddling with the radio, turning to talk to a friend or watching a video on their cell phone. In fact, some distractions could even be more dangerous than drinking and driving. Research from the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of the Advanced Motorist shows that the driver’s reaction time slows by 38% while using a smartphone, while it only slows by 12% while intoxicated. Use this information to show teens the seriousness of using a smartphone behind the wheel.

Teach teens that if they need help navigating to their location or calling someone, a passenger in the car should handle that responsibility. Passengers can easily look up directions, text a friend or make a phone call on behalf of the driver to ensure that the driver’s attention is focused solely on the road ahead. If you know your teen is driving with friends, don’t text your child, text his or her friend instead. 

If you were injured in a distracted driving accident, speak to a Denver car accident lawyer about how to prove that the other driver was distracted, and recover compensation. Schedule a free evaluation of your claim by a Denver car accident lawyer today.

By: Dallas Norton

Dallas Norton, the founding partner of Norton & Bowers, has practiced law with a focus on personal injury since 1992. Mr. Norton has extensive Colorado roots including grade school in Arvada and high school in Denver. He earned his J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School in 1991. When working on behalf of clients, Mr. Norton draws upon his extensive background in psychology and human resources.